Myrtle Beach hitting coach Josue Perez is astounded by how good Luis Sardinas is at hitting with two strikes. It's what he did earlier in counts on Tuesday night, though, that had Perez proud of his young pupil.
The Rangers' No. 3 prospect showcased the latter ability by collecting three of his four hits after getting ahead in the count as Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach defeat Frederick, 5-4.
Sardinas also drove in two runs and added his 19th stolen base while raising his average to .282. The four-hit performance was the third this season for MLB.com's 93rd-ranked overall prospect -- he had four hits in back-to-back games on May 15-16.
Through May 26, the switch-hitter was hitting .308 as a 20-year-old in the Carolina League. But he fell into a 7-for-50 slump that ended against the Keys with hits from both sides of the plate. Facing left-handed starter Eduardo Rodriguez -- the Orioles' fourth-ranked prospect -- Sardinas went 2-for-3 with a pair of line drive singles, including a two-run poke in the second.
The sample is small, but Sardinas has been far more effective against right-handers than left-handers this season. Against southpaws, he's hitting .228 with a .537 OPS in 57 at-bats; against righties, he's batting .299 with a .711 OPS.
Perez doesn't think Sardinas is necessarily more advanced from the left side though. He does believe that his future is as a leadoff hitter and has worked with the Venezuela native on improving his approach early in counts.
"Controlling the strike zone is a big part of it," Perez said. "Controlling the strike zone so he can get pitches to hit and also work the count and get on base because that's going to be his role one day."
Perez called Sardinas' abilities with two strikes "remarkable" for his age, citing his "handsy" approach as a reason he thrives in two-strike counts. Sardinas has struck out in only 15.2 percent of his plate appearances this season.
"Because he's able to use his hands so well, he's not afraid to hit with two strikes, which is huge," Perez said. "With two strikes, he tells me, 'I can work the count.' That's how confident he is that he can make something happen with two strikes."
That ability can bail Sardinas out and make him an asset to teams that value leadoff hitters who force opponents to throw a lot of pitches. What Perez wants to see more from the youngster is at-bats like Tuesday, where he gets himself ahead in the count, picks out a hittable pitch and laces a base hit.
"We're trying to get him to be as consistent as we can to keep him in the same state of mind and to keep the same approach," Perez explained. "I feel like he's in a good place and he's been doing a good job of doing all that stuff and staying with his game plan.
"He is really handsy from both sides, and that's what makes him a good hitter, being able to use his hands and use the whole field. That's what he does well. Then you try to add the strike-zone management and get on top of the ball and get a good one to drive and stay with his approach, which is to hit the ball up the middle."
Drew Robinson also drove in two runs for the Pelicans, going 2-for-4 out of the eighth spot in the lineup. Starter Victor Payano (5-3) got the win after allowing two runs on two hits over five innings. He struck out six and walked three.